Blogs from Robe, Oromia Region, Ethiopia, Africa


Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe June 29th 2008

The bureaucracy at the College is quite amazing! I had to undergo ‘internal clearance’ before theywould write the clearance letters that I need for when I leave Ethiopia. This involves 32 different people each signing (seven times) to say that I have nothing belonging to the College and am free to leave. Most of the 32 have had nothing to do with my work here! Luckily, one of the office workers, Ture, was given the task of collecting the signatures for me. There have only been two slight problems … When I handed over the running of the Higher Diploma Programme to Kefyalew, we did not formally sign over the office equipment and furniture. We spent a couple of hours with two other workers, going through the list - we even had to account for a ... read more
Walk to River Shaya
Shaya River

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe May 5th 2008

Apart from the cactus and the people washing their clothes in the river, the landscape as I walked along the River Shaya could have been somewhere in Northumberland. The recent rains were holding off, so I had decided that, as we had a day off work for Patriots’ Day, I would go for a walk. I left Robe at 8am, and headed towards Hora Boka. It is amazing how quickly the mud dries - after only a couple of days without rain, there was a hard crust underfoot. I walked along the main road, only getting a few comments, giving the impression (however wrongly) that people in the village are getting used to seeing me. Heading down the hill beyond the village to the River Shaya, I got the inevitable question, “Where you go?” I headed ... read more
River Shaya
River Shaya - resting!
River Shaya

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe March 14th 2008

Most of the time I feel a little bit like a fraud as a volunteer in Ethiopia, as my quality of life is so much better here than in the UK. I am often asked how Ethiopia and the UK compare economically - my stock answer is that it is difficult to compare because, of course, wages are much higher, but so are costs in the UK. There is no air pollution; just the dust of Robe to contend with in the dry season. And I rarely take work home in the evening or at weekends. I sleep well and eat locally produced, organic, food. However, over the last week or so, I have felt like a “proper” VSO volunteer. I have been running lots of workshops in Cluster Centre Schools for teachers. When the workshops ... read more
Workshop at Finca'a Bamo
A different classroom - same topic for a workshop!
Child watching the Ferenji at work

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe January 27th 2008

I was invited to go and watch the Mamilla Kindergarten Institute (where I teach on a Saturday) playing in a volleyball match yesterday, but missed the game as it had finished by the time Hannah and I got there - based on the experience of today, I have no idea how! They were playing again today, so after a Sunday breakfast of eggs (the best in Robe) at Welmall Café, we went to Robe Stadium. The volleyball was taking place behind the actual stadium, in the grounds! The first match, between Robe Teachers’ College and Agafa College, was supposed to have started at 3am (local time, i.e. 9am) but had still not started when we arrived at 4am. Buno, one of my friends, was the RTC coach and Kuma (an HDP candidate from last year) was ... read more
Team Mamilla
Mamilla playing
Buno - Robe CTE's coach

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe January 20th 2008

Two of my friends in Robe have set up a private training institute for Kindergarten teachers. When they first told me about it, I was impressed by their vision and the fact that they had recognised a gap in the market and acted on it. They are using an old clinic and have refurbished the classrooms. They asked if I would help them by teaching some classes, so I spend Saturday mornings teaching three groups. I don’t get paid, but the guys occasionally invite me out for a drink or dinner, which is a great deal. The sessions are about how to teach English to kindergarten children (not an area am I particularly skilled in, but thank goodness for the Internet), which I have based mainly on a phonics programme from the UK. One of the ... read more
Playing a name game
Timkat in Robe

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe January 19th 2008

Tuesday was Hannah’s birthday. She had decided to have a huge party on the Saturday. Hannah’s invitation had said that it was an English party. In Ethiopia, the custom is that if you invite someone for a coffee, beer or meal, you pay for them. Obviously, Hannah was not able to pay for everyone. The party was at the Harar Beer restaurant (sometimes known as Ketema) and started at 3pm. Attota, one of Hannah’s candidates was the MC and told us the programme for the afternoon, which started with an icebreaker (oh, the influence of the Higher Diploma Programme). A second activity involved slips of paper being randomly distributed to some of the guests who had to do the action stated. Holly’s impression of a lion was a definite crowd pleaser, and worth her coming from ... read more
Traditiona Bale dress
Shekla Tibs
Lion Impression

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe December 19th 2007

On Monday, I had to deliver a letter to a village around 6 km from Robe, so it was a perfect opportunity to go by horse. Daamaa was being unusually stubborn and not far out of Robe, just stopped; no amount of encouragement would get him moving. Slightly embarrassing! Then an older man took pity on me and started to lead him. He obviously thought I was totally incompetent and when we reached the village and he had to turn off to his house, he handed the rope over to a woman who took great delight in stopping at the house of every one of her friends (and she had many) through the village to explain that she had to lead the Farenji on the horse - we even took a detour to her sister’s house. ... read more
Oromo woman
Watching the speeches
Gabbi detail

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe December 9th 2007

Things seem to be changing in Robe. On a personal level, it is possible to buy porridge oats at more than one shop (previously they were only available only at the purple Mana Kosmeetikki, but they have since sold out), Mars and Snickers bars are sold at the Fountain Pastry and the road is due to have asphalt - although there is still no sign of this. Over the last few days, a blue covering has gone up around the fountain in the middle of town. This signals something significant. The fountain is not usually working, but gets switched on occasionally - for high days and holidays! There is a big Millennium celebration planned at Sheik Hussein Mosque - about 3 - 4 hours from Robe - next week, so perhaps the fountain renovation is also ... read more
The fountain when it is working

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe December 1st 2007

Although it is not part of my actual VSO placement, I am privileged to have a small involvement with a vocational training project for deaf students, at Galema Elementray School, in Robe. The project was set up by Catherine, Emma and Elmy (previous volunteers in Robe) using funding that they helped the school to obtain from the International Deaf Children’s Society. Today was a celebration of the first graduation of students who have completed Year 10. There were several speeches, translated into sign language for the students by Aynalem - one of the Special Needs Teachers at the school. There were also two plays performed. The first, performed by hearing and deaf students, was the story of a couple who had a deaf child; they tried going to a priest and a doctor to get her ... read more
Cloth woven by deaf students
Two students
Buying cloth

Africa » Ethiopia » Oromia Region » Robe November 17th 2007

For the second consecutive Saturday, Hannah and I had intended to visit the Bale Mountains National Park HQ at Dinsho … but failed to get a bus. There was an Addaba-Dodola bus that we could have got to drop us off in Dinsho, but because we are Farenji, and the assumption is therefore that we are rich tourists, they told us that the fare is 20 birr. I happen to know that that is the price of a ticket to Addaba, and that to Dinsho, the fare is 10 birr. I was loathe to pay the inflated price as, being volunteers we are paid a similar wage to Ethiopian colleagues (in fact less than many of my colleagues!) and would be doing no favours for tourists, especially independent backpacker types, if we paid the inflated price. ... read more
Children watching our lunch
Crossing the Shaya River
Crossing the river

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